Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Hassan Sheibani

About

Age: 55
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: January 8, 1993
Location: Birjand, Khorasan\Khorasan-e Razavi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Sympathizing with anti-regime guerilla groups; Unspecified counter-revolutionary offense; War on God, God's Prophet and the deputy of the Twelfth Imam; Murder; Prostitution and/or procuring

About this Case

Information regarding Mr. Hassan Sheibani’s case was drawn from two electronic forms, death certificate, court documents, letters and other documents sent to Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF) by a person close to Mr. Sheibani.

Mr. Sheibani was born to a feudal family on 2 January 1938 in Mazhan, a village in Birjand, currently located in Northern Khorasan Province. His family had a history of political activism and a portion of their properties had been confiscated at the onset of the Islamic Revolution. Upon finishing his primary school education, he completed two years of legal training at the Military High School and received a law license. Mr. Sheibani was a warrant officer in the Gendarmerie (a military force charged with police duties.) In 1979, while travelling from Mashhad to Birjand, he was arrested in Gha’en (a small town in Khorasan province) based on a warrant issued by the Revolutionary Committee of Torbatheidarieh, served by the Qa’en Gendamerie, citing a car accident as the reason. He was subsequently held as an “anti-revolutionary” with two death row prisoners at the Melli Bank of Torbatheidarieh building. He was released in July 1979 after numerous correspondences with Mehdi Bazargan, the then Prime Minister. According to the individual close to Mr. Sheibani, the [real] reason for this arrest was [certain] officials’ personal enmity with him, stemming from an incident in 1976, during his tenure. There is no further information about this incident or the charges brought against Mr. Sheibani.

In 1980 (after the Revolution), Mr. Sheibani was appointed Commander of the Anti-Narcotic Drugs within the Birjand regiment in southern Khorasan Province. In the same year or a year later, however, he was forced into compulsory retirement after 22 years of service, by the Purge Committee of the Military.

In 1982, Mr. Sheibani was arrested once again by order of the Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office of Birjand. It is not clear what the reasons for this arrest were. According to the information sent to ABF, however, the charge brought against Mr. Sheibani was related to the commission of anti-revolutionary crimes. He was first taken to the Ministry of Intelligence Prison and then to Shahrbani Prison. He was released on bail after 9 months and given a one week leave, due to the death of his daughter. During his leave, he sent a letter to Ayatollah Khomeini detailing the illegal actions of the Birjand Prosecutor. The letter contained statement to the effect that “you can export the revolution to the Horn of Africa (meaning to the farthest and most unlikely places on the planet), but if there is no justice in Iran itself, you have failed.” After this letter and upon Ayatollah Khomein’s Decree known as the “Decree of Eight Articles”, the Birjand Prosecutor was dismissed and Mr. Sheibani did not return to prison.

Mr. Sheibani was arrested once more in 1984 by order of the Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office of Birjand for following up on his 1982 case, and was released on bail two months later. Since, at the time, the Iranian Bar Association was practically closed down and there were no attorneys in Birjand, Mr. Sheibani, who was well-versed in the law (because of his interest as well as his having studied the subject matter), worked as a lawyer in an unofficial capacity, after his retirement. He had tried to prevent his clients’ rights from being violated. , This turned him into a well-known and popular figure, as attested to by the large number of people attending his funeral in spite of a government ban to do so.

Arrest and detention

By order of the Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office of Birjand, Mr. Sheibani was arrested by [members of] the Intelligence Branch of the Revolutionary Guards, at 11 am on 24 December 1985 in Khosf, a village 35 kilometers from Birjand . In winter 1986-87 he escaped from prison and went to Mashhad, he and remained in hiding in Mashhad, Shiraz and Tehran. He was identified and arrested, along with his son, in May 1987 at Rahahan Circle in Tehran by the Intelligence Branch of Birjand Revolutionary Guards, and taken to Qasr Prison. Upon being interrogated, he was transferred to Birjand. In 1987, he was transferred from Birjand Shahrbani Prison to The Revolutionary Committee’s Prison in Birjand. In 1990, he was transferred to Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad where he spent one month prior to his execution. Mr. Sheibani escaped prison again in 1991 but he was rearrested three days later near the Iran-Afghanistan border. He was finally taken to Birjand to carry out the sentence.

According to people close to him, Mr. Sheibani was in detention and under interrogation for 7 years, during which he was denied access to a lawyer with the exception of a very short period. However, Mr. Sheibani managed to write some notes on the back of his dirty laundry which he used to send out of prison to wash, in which he explained prison conditions and his trial. He spent most of his prison time in solitary confinement. His visitations with his family were sporadic and at the whim of prison officials. These visitations took place in the detention center boiler room and in the presence of a prison guard. This room was divided into two by a three-layered chicken fence that separated the visitors from the inmate. Being deprived of visitations had a devastating effect on Mr. Sheibani’s spirit. Also, he was under constant physical and psychological pressure. In one of his letters dated 7 September 1987, he wrote: “I will not live long…There is no doctor here, no bath, no tea, little food and the visitations are erratic.” The pressure in prison was so unbearable that at one point on 27 July 1987, Mr. Sheibani attempted suicide with electroshock.

In another instance, Mr. Sheibani was transferred from Shahrbani Prison to the Revolutionary Committee’s Prison in Birjand on 21 July 1987, blindfolded. There, the revolutionary guards and the warden beat him and torture him so many times that in one of his letters, he complained of severe pain and loss of hearing. Not only did prison officials deny him medical care, but they also transferred him to an underground cell, while he was in very poor physical condition, and cancelled his visitations. In his letter dated 7 September 1987 he wrote about this incident: “File a complaint saying that your father is an old man who suffers from heart and kidney disease, asthma and psychological problems, and that he was transferred from Birjand Shahrbani Prison to the Revolutionary Committee’s Prison just to harass him physically and psychologically; that he has been subjected to very harsh restrictions which are unbearable for an old man and that he is being kept in solitary confinement where he is deprived of medical care, a bath, and visitations…” Mr. Sheibani once asked his family to convince the officials to give him covered container to urinate in and a pitcher to drink water, since all of his belongings had been taken away from him. Mr. Sheibani and his family submitted numerous complaints of his mistreatment and torture in prison, to no avail. For instance, on 27 January 1986, Mr. Sheibani wrote a letter to the Warden of the Revolutionary Committee’s Prison of Birjand and complained about his undesirable prison condition and his deprivation of visitations with his family. Further, on 7 August 1987, he brought up his complaint before the Revolutionary Prosecutor of Birjand, who ignored it. The family’s numerous other complaints either never bore fruit, or did not have a practical effect on his condition in prison.

Trial

In his letter dated 27 July 1987, Mr. Sheibani informed his family of a trial which had taken place on 22 and 25 July 1987 at the Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office of Birjand headquarters.

According to persons close to Mr. Sheibani, he was tried for the last time in 1991. No further information is available regarding this trial.

Charges

According to the documents sent to ABF, Mr. Sheibani was charged with “connection with counter-revolutionary [elements], enticing people against the settlement of Afghans, creating havoc, [instigating] prostitution and murder of a woman named Ozra Khavari”

According to people close to Mr. Sheibani, the above-mentioned woman had filed a complaint against him to the effect that “he had temporarily married me (“Siqeh” or the concept of temporary marriage for a pre-determined time and a pre-determined fee) in 1977 and although I am his wife he forces me into prostitution.” After Mr. Sheibani’s escape from prison in 1986, Ms. Khavari’s body was found and he was charged with her murder.

Regarding the counter-revolutionary offenses, people close to Mr. Sheibani told ABF that he had been arrested during a protest against the resettlement of the Afghan immigrants in Sarparch settlement near Khosf, and that was the reason he was convicted of enticing people to riot.

Evidence of guilt

No information is available concerning the evidence presented against the accused. In his last letter to his family, Mr. Khavari named a number of individuals whose statements played a role in finding him guilty, but were apparently not present at the trial to testify against him.

Defense

No information is available concerning Mr. Sheibani’s defense but there are a number of issues concerning the trial that create substantial doubts as to whether the standards of due process of law were respected in his case:

1. According to people close to Mr. Sheibani, Ms. Ozra Khavari sued Mr. Sheibani at the instigation of the security forces. Moreover, Mr. Sheibani, while escaping to Mashhad, could not have been at Khosf, the location of the murder, which was 35 kilometers in the opposite direction. ABF does not have any further information on this escape. As for the demonstrations against the resettlement of the Afghan immigrant, it is said that Mr. Sheibani was there to bring back his son who had gone to watch the protests.

2. There is evidence in the case that creates doubts as to whether the Revolutionary Court judge was impartial. In his letter dated 27 July 1987, Mr. Sheibani wrote: “The trial session was not legitimate and the legal and religious standards were not respected. The Prosecutor was acting as if he were the presiding judge; he and the [investigating judge] were running the trial.” He added: “It was clear from the [presiding judge’s] behavior that he had been provoked against me because he was not interested in hearing my defense.”

3. Not only was Mr. Sheibani not given a chance to effectively defend himself but, on the contrary, it seems that he was actively denied the right and the opportunity to do so. He mentions in one of his letters that “They took me from Shahrbani prison to the Revolutionary Committee’s Prison to torture me and take away the ability to defend myself. They canceled my visitations in order for you not to become aware of my trial and not to deliver the [necessary] documents to me.” In addition, an official declaration by Mr. Sheibani’s wife addressed to the Chief of the Anti-Narcotic Drugs Headquarters located in the Revolutionary Committee of Birjand, was sent to ABF which indicates that a briefcase containing documents necessary for Mr. Sheibani’s defense, was delivered to the Revolutionary Committee’s Prison on the morning of 3 February 1986 but was never turned over to him and consequently, Mr. Sheibani was deprived of the necessary means to defend himself. The response to this assertion was that, because Mr. Sheibani’s case was at the Revolutionary Court, it was the agents of the Ministry of Intelligence who retrieved the afore-mentioned briefcase from the guards, and this does not concern the Revolutionary Committee. In addition, Mr. Sheibani’s wife sued one of the Revolutionary Guards’ officials for embezzlement, in order to retrieve the documents, but this complaint was dismissed for “lack of evidence” in a decision rendered by the Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office of Birjand on 9 March 1987. Further, in a letter to the Revolutionary Prosecutor of Birjand dated 25 January 1986, Mr. Sheibani himself on requested that the briefcase be returned to him; there was apparently no response to this letter either.

Also, after his first trial in 1987, prison official made prison conditions so hard for Mr. Sheibani that in his letter of 27 July 1987 to his family, he wrote that he could not send his last defense to the court from prison under those circumstances, and asked his family to request the president of the court to summon him instead. It is not clear whether he was actually summoned to court or not.

4. His first trial at the Revolutionary Court was conducted without an attorney. According to Mr. Sheibani, a court-appointed lawyer was designated for him only in the 1991 trial.

Judgment

According to the information sent to ABF, Mr. Sheibani was executed in Birjand on 8 Jan 1993 in the presence of the officials. In his death certificate the cause of death was declared as “hanging”. People close to Mr. Sheibani reported to ABF that according to eye-witnesses, when they wanted to serve him with the court’s decision, he wrote under the verdict: “this judgment is illegal and I don’t accept it.”

Mr. Sheibani left a will in which he said goodbye, gave his heirs some advice, and instructions about his financial matters, then added: “At this moment that the death is only steps from me, I am calm and I don’t feel the slightest shiver or fear and I am totally in control of myself…I wish a happy life and destiny for all of my children and I emphasize once again that I am innocent of the charges…”

During the years Mr. Sheibani was in prison and even after his execution, his family was pressured and harassed by the officials in different ways. For example, his children were deprived of higher education and banned from management positions. In 1986 when Mr. Sheibani escaped from prison, his wife and son were arrested and his two minor children were left alone without supervision. After Mr. Sheibani’s death, the Ministry of Intelligence ordered the municipality of Khosf to demolish their house and to sell the land to Basij.

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